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Rizzoli Bookstore Interior Won't Be Landmarked, Officials Say

By Mathew Katz | April 10, 2014 1:06pm
 The Rizzoli Bookstore faces imminent demolition.
The Rizzoli Bookstore faces imminent demolition.
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Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

MIDTOWN — A day before the beloved Rizzoli Bookstore is set to close, the Landmarks Preservation Commission shot down a last-ditch effort to save the historic building from demolition

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer filed an application last month to give landmark status to the 109-year-old building's interior after the commission declined to protect the building as a whole. The building's owners, the Lefrak family and the Vornado Realty Trust, have said they will tear down the building after Rizzoli moves out of it on Friday.

In a statement issued Thursday, the LPC said that the interior of the building at 31 W. 57th St. did not qualify for protection because its design dates back only to 1985, when chandeliers, bookshelves, cabinetry and flooring were installed as part of an overhaul to turn the former Sohmer Piano showroom into a bookstore. 

"Some original interior fabric remaining from the Sohmer Piano showroom, such as the decorative ceiling and iron railings, was incorporated into the new design," LPC spokeswoman Damaris Olivo said in a statement.

"Our review concluded that because there are few remaining elements from the piano showroom era, particularly in comparison with other intact interior landmark spaces like the Steinway Piano showroom on West 57th Street, the site no longer retains the integrity of its original design, and the ca. 1985 redesign of the space does not rise to the level of an interior designation."

Locals, politicians and preservationists heavily lobbied the commission to protect the building, fearing that it could be replaced by a massive skyscraper. An online petition urging the LPC to landmark the bookstore has more than 16,500 signatures

The bookstore, which plans to move to an unannounced location, is currently selling books at a 40 percent discount until it closes its longtime home for good on Friday evening.

Brewer, Vornado and the Lefrak family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.